Table Game Spotlight: Chinese Poker

Have you ever tried the Chinese version of Poker? It’s about time to do so! Check out this table game guide for this poker variation.

Chinese poker is commonly played by many poker players, due to its portability and simplicity. It is basically usage of poker hands, without any chips or betting. Standard 52-card deck is used for the game, and it can be played with 2 to 4 players. There are three sections in which the game can be broken; the deal, hand selection and showdown/scoring.

The Deal

The entire deck is dealt into 4 hands after shuffling. Each player gets a hand, in case there are 4 players. The 4th hand is discarded, if you are playing with 3 players. Similarly, with 2 players, you receive one hand and the second one is reserved for the next. You are only allowed to look at your own hands. 

Hand Selection

13 cards are dealt to each of the 4 players, and it is your responsibility to break it into top, middle and bottom hands. The worst hand of all three must be a three-card hand i.e. the top one, and the middle hand should be a 5-card hand, with the bottom hand also having the same. Bottom hand is the best of all three. Standard poker hand ranking is followed by the 5-card hands. The best example would be to pick a pair of threes at the top, two pairs, nines and jacks at the middle and ace-high-flush at the bottom hand.

Showdown and Scoring

You would instantly score the hands, once it is sorted by all the players. During this phase, each of your hands is compared with that of your opponent; condition being it should be of the same type. The better hand will score a point. It is easier to score with fewer players in the game. You need to keep track of the totals to know how you are doing.

Special Rules

There are certain variations in the game rules, unlike Poker:

  • Scooping: The player wins a bonus, in case he wins all the 3 hands against a player. ‘Scoops’ is the term for it. The standard bonus is 2 times the points.
  • Fouled Hand: The opponent player will automatically scoop, in case you foul your hand by either having an illegal amount of cards in a specific hand or going against the rule.


Royalty is to be awarded only to the player who wins the comparison for a particular hand. Some players make it complex by attaching different points to each specific royalty. In Chinese version, there is no hard and fast rule. You can play with any combination or system. You just have to make sure that everything is happening with mutual agreement. Majority of people playing this game, play with bonuses or royalties. Some of the most commonly played ones include:

  • Three of the Same: This is an alternative version of 13-card comprising of 3 straights and 3 flushes.
  • Strong Hands: Generally, trips in the top, a full house in the middle and quads or something better in the bottom will win you a royalty.
  • 13-Card Hands: Irrespective of the hand to hand comparison, you will be automatically scooping with a 13-card hand.

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